May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right. ~Peter Marshall
Friends, I don’t often vent, but it’s time to talk about healthcare and the GOP’s hypocrisy.
Americans are proud of our ability to protect stuff. We fight wars. We root out terrorists. We expand security to impressive (sometimes questionable) heights. We have a professional military and the biggest and baddest guns on the planet. We’re the self-designated cops, the tough guys, the ones you call when things are falling apart.
Where is that sense of American protectionism now?
Where is that desire to protect our fellow Americans when lives are literally at stake and the outcome of one vote could kill hundreds of thousands of people?
Why is it less important to protect Americans from impending death when the mode is bureaucracy and poverty instead of a bomb?
Why and how could a group of 50 (+1) people decide that millions of Americans are no longer worthy of healthcare – while justifying increased military funding because it’s necessary to combat terrorists and “save American lives”?
Who are we kidding here?
In the 19 years from 1995-2014, 3503 American souls were tragically lost to terrorist attacks; 2902 on September 11 alone. We can and must fight terrorism – there’s no debate about that.
But studies of the impact of health insurance on mortality show that the GOP plan will cause at least 20,000 Americans to die EVERY SINGLE YEAR. (I’m being super generous here – estimates range from between 24,000 and 44,000.)
Think about that. More than FIVE TIMES the number of people killed in terrorist attacks between 1995-2014 would die every single year year because of the GOP’s so-called “healthcare plan.”
So let’s ask the obvious question.
Why is our government willing to protect us from terrorists who kill us with bullets and bombs, but unwilling to step in to protect us from those who kill us with contract language? A pre-existing exclusion here, an annual benefit cap there – all for the sake of profit in a healthcare system that sees the souls of our children and our parents and our neighbors as mere entries on a balance sheet.
The GOP refuses to tell us what, exactly, they intend to do with our health. It’s all very hush-hush and being done behind closed doors. Legislation that will kill Americans, that will impact 1/6 of the economy, that will send states into economic tailspins, that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs –
All that is being debated very quietly, very politely, over lunches and drinks and coffee.
Think about that. No public hearings. No amendment process. No markups, no studies, no bipartisan discourse. People’s lives hang in the balance, and the GOP is deciding their constituents’ fate over a Caesar salad and a latte.
But once McConnell gets to his magic 50 – he’ll pull the lever and we’ll see them file onto the Senate floor to very politely vote to kill their constituents.
That’s the reality.
And make no bones about it – this issue isn’t just about people who use the ACA. It’s not about someone else.
It’s about you. And me.
The word on the street is that pre-existing conditions exclusions might be resurrected; lifetime and annual benefit caps might be resurrected. (All in the fine print, of course – it would be unseemly to be too honest.)
So, let me ask you.
How far away are you from losing it all with one bad diagnosis?
If you had to decide between spending your family’s life savings on treatment – or dying, which would you choose? Would you choose to “survive” as a penniless but intact family, or would you choose to die so your family could keep the house?
Because people have to make that choice, you know.
If they even have a choice.
We need to fight like our lives depend on it.
Because I am telling you right now – they do.
So keep up the pressure. Call your Senators. Tell them that we see them. Don’t let them forget.
Be the protector that America has always been.
If they won’t do that job, then by God, we will.
This week’s actions are all about healthcare.
Because when you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
Tuesday: Demand a Hearing
This week, during a Finance Committee hearing, Senator McCaskill asked Orrin Hatch if they were going to have a hearing on the AHCA. (If you haven’t seen the video of her request, you should totally watch it because it’s awesome and she voiced all of our frustrations really well.) You know, if there were hearings on the health care bill, we might hear more about the impact on American lives. As it stands, what we know shows that it’s pretty terrible. But let’s be clear – our leaders owe it to us to be transparent, so let’s ask for that.
Call your Senators. If you don’t have their contact info programmed into your phone yet, call the switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator:
Script: I am extremely concerned about the lack of transparency for the GOP’s planned heath care bill. News reports suggest the details of the bill are terrible – but we can’t look into it because there have not been hearings or public debate on the bill. What is Senator ___’s position on the healthcare bill? I know Senator ____ believes in government transparency – I expect he/she will call for public hearings on the bill. When is he/she planning to do that? (If “I don’t know, but I’ll pass that along”) Please do. I expect Senator ____ to ensure that any bill impacting 1/6th of the American economy and millions of American lives is fully understood and vetted before he/she votes on it. I’ll be watching this very closely.
Wednesday: Draft Your Own Healthcare Amendment
You – yes, YOU! – can be in the Congressional Record! Thanks to the folks at Indivisible Guide, who have once again outdone themselves with this one. Go to www.ouramendments.org to write your story and help the democrats “filibuster by amendment.”
Let me explain.
The GOP’s strategy to pass the AHCA requires the budget reconciliation process – which requires a bare majority rather than 60 votes for legislation to pass – and limits floor debate in the Senate to 20 hours. That’s split equally between parties – so for all intents and purposes we’re talking about 10 hours. For comparison, in 2009 the full Senate debated the ACA for 25 straight days.
But there are some limits to their use of this legislative tool: First, the budget reconciliation process expires in September (and the GOP gave themselves a vacation from July 31-September 4, which squeezes their timeline even further).
Second, even after the 20 hours of debate, Senators can offer amendments – just without debate. That’s called a “vote-o-rama.” And the budget reconciliation act “puts no procedural limit on the duration of the ‘vote-o-rama.'”
So, providing these amendments give our democratic Senators yet more legislative ammunition to use to procedurally block the AHCA.
Last week I introduced you to Resistbot. To review, take these three steps (that take less than 2 minutes – I promise!) to voice your opposition to the Senate health bill. First, Text RESIST to 50409. Second, provide your name and zip code so the bot can find your Senators. (If you only want to send to one Senator, type Junior to send to the newer Senator, and Senior for the other.) Third, tell the bot what you’d like to say in the fax. To make this easy, here’s some sample text for you to copy and paste and personalize:
Why aren’t you protecting your constituents and fighting for our right to understand what is in the healthcare bill that’s being drafted in secret? When I call your office your staff assures me that that you do care about us. But how can you care about us and not demand that we be able to see legislation that impacts us so directly?
How can you say you support government transparency when you haven’t demanded public hearings and debate?
Make no mistake – this legislation will hurt the people of our state and our economy. And if you continue to refuse to protect your constituents, we won’t let you forget it.
Prove that you’re serious about protecting American lives, and vote no.
The bot will then ask if you have anything else to add and will let you see a preview. If you’re happy with your fax, hit send and wait for your confirmation. Voila!
Friday: Be Social and Share Away (and a great resource to find friends in key states!)
Here are some awesome resources to protest with your social media accounts. Be sure to scroll down to see words that will haunt the GOP…
Indivisible Data Sharing: The folks at Indivisible Data have created state-by-state shareable healthcare graphics! (The graphics are in reverse alpha order, so just scroll down until you see your Senator’s name.) Create your own by going to Indivisible Guide’s state-by-state data resource.
TrumpCare Toolkit: I love two things about www.Trumpcaretoolkit.org. First, it makes it super easy for you to find friends in key states. Click the “find friends in this state” next to any Senator’s name to find Facebook friends living in that state. Second, it has some fantastic shareables for folks in AK, AL, AZ, CO, LA, ME, NV, OH, PA, TN and WV.
Retweet Words That Haunt: Here are a few “vintage” Tweets circa 2010 that you should resurrect on your feed:
- House Republicans: Question: Will Speaker Pelosi Wait for the “Final Number” from the CBO? http://bit.ly/9JPTeJ
- Pence: It’s simply wrong for legislation that’ll affect 100% of the American people to be negotiated behind closed doors
- Senator Cornyn: The people have a right to know what is happening behind closed doors with secret HC negotiations
Published Words That Haunt: And lastly, read and share this lovely 2009 healthcare op-ed from Paul Ryan, who argued “Congress is moving fast to rush through a health care overhaul that lacks a key ingredient: the full participation of you, the American people.” Note that was written in July, there had already been hearings, and the ACA would not be passed until March 2010 – SEVEN months later. *slams head into keyboard*
That covers this week’s pep talk and list of actions. If you want one more quick action, send this pep talk to a friend or two!
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here!
A huge thank you to everyone who has written!
And thank you, again, for being part of what makes this country amazing.